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Update: VC Pay & Governance

It has been several months since HEFCE launched an investigation into the University of Bath. The investigation is ongoing and is expected to conclude later this month.

Recent developments:

  • There have been reports of a “very significant” drop in undergraduate student applications. These match feedback from staff across the academic departments that prospective students and parents are frequently raising questions and concerns about senior management pay and governance.
  • University Council (the governing body) announced the removal of the Vice-Chancellor from the Remuneration Committee. However, the Vice-Chancellor will still attend meetings of the Remuneration Committee and UCU have described the announcement as a “worthless stunt to try and stem the tide of damaging media stories“.
  • Council have revealed some details of the long-awaited university governance review. The joint unions are concerned that staff and students will not be able to meaningfully participate in the review.
  • Staff, students and Emeritus Professors who are members of University Court have requested an urgent meeting to discuss senior management pay and governance. They have received a letter to inform them that this request has been blocked by University Council.
  • Film director and University of Bath honorary graduate  Ken Loach is the first external speaker to publicly cancel an event at the University over the scandal. He joined students to demand “the resignation of the vice-chancellor and senior governors”, introduction of a 10:1 pay ratio, cuts to student rents and governance reforms “to give students and staff more control” of the university.
  • Four Members of Parliament have now resigned from the University, citing unacceptable senior management pay and inequality. The MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, has also condemned university governors for the Vice-Chancellor’s “morally indefensible” £451K salary, which she said had “brought the university into disrepute“.
  • Freedom of Information requests have revealed that last year almost £19K was claimed in expenses for the Vice-Chancellor’s Lansdown Crescent residence (including bills, Council Tax and a housekeeper), and that the Vice-Chancellor has also received a £31K interest-free car loan from university funds.

Many of these developments have been summarised in a timeline article by the Bath Chronicle.

Union Action

The unions at the University of Bath have long fought to address staff and student grievances about failures of the governing body to tackle pay inequality and excessive senior management pay rises.

In early July, the unions sent a letter to members of University Council about these issues. Four months later, the letter remains unanswered. It is clear that despite everything that has happened, there remains powerful resistance from the very top of the university to any meaningful dialogue with staff and students about the problems of pay inequality and university governance.

Last month the unions invited national UCU Vice President Doug Chalmers to Bath to discuss the crisis of governance. He was able to provide some insights and advice from his experience with governance reforms in Scotland. The unions will now be meeting to agree a way forward in a joint campaign for a more open and democratic university that is accountable to its students, staff and the wider community.

The joint unions will continue to provide students and staff with updates and will be consulting with members about how we should proceed with the campaign. This is your university and it is important that you have a say in how it is run. If you would like to offer suggestions or take a more active role, please contact your union branch President or Chair by replying to this message.

University of Bath UCU
The SU, University of Bath
Unite, University of Bath
UNISON at the University of Bath​

HEFCE Inquiry into University of Bath governance and decisions on senior management pay

The regulator for Higher Education in England has announced that it “is making enquiries of the University of Bath…about governance practice in relation to the remuneration of senior staff.” Investigation by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) follows a formal complaint by the former Education Minister Lord Adonis who, last month, issued what has been described as “a scathing attack on [the] ‘greed’ of Bath University Vice Chancellor Dame Glynis Breakwell”.

Local politicians have responded with condemnation. Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, reacted to the HEFCE complaint by saying that “the university has brought itself into disrepute” and that the Vice Chancellor’s £451K salary is “morally indefensible”. B&NES Councillor Joe Rayment blamed the “Vice-Chancellor’s outrageous pay and perks” on “governance that is rotten to the core”.

The unions at the University of Bath have long fought to address staff and student grievances about failures of the governing body to tackle pay inequality and excessive senior management pay rises.

Most recently, in early July, the unions sent a letter to members of University Council, requesting the suspension of decisions of the remuneration committee pending an immediate and thorough governance review. One month later, the letter remains unanswered.

Despite the damage they are inflicting on the reputation of the university, and on staff and student morale, there is still no evidence that senior managers or governors are willing to acknowledge the need for significant and prompt changes.

Your unions remain committed to arguing for and helping to create a university that is fair, open and democratic, and in which the collective voices of staff and students are listened to and respected. Thank you for your continued support.

University of Bath UCU
University of Bath Unite
UNISON at the University of Bath

The SU, University of Bath

If you would like to become more actively involved in your union, or to join if you have not yet done so, contact the UCU Branch Secretary.

House of Lords in shock at size of Bath Vice Chancellor’s pay packet

On the same day that Lord Adonis launched a scathing attack on pay inequality in UK universities and the ‘greed’ of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath, the joint trades unions (UCU, Unite and UNISON) and Students’ Union wrote to all members of University Council calling on them to suspend the University Remuneration Committee pending a full and immediate review of its decisions and decision making processes. (more…)

“A Source of Embarrassment” – Pay Inequality at Bath

In October, the University received national press attention during the week of our 50th Anniversary celebrations, but for all the wrong reasons, as half a dozen newspapers ran stories focused entirely on the pay and expenses of the Vice Chancellor. (more…)

“I’m worth it” – Vice Chancellor defends her enormous pay increases

As we have done each year since 2011, campus unions wrote to members of the University Remuneration Committee before their annual meeting on 9th July.   We have not so far heard back from the Remuneration Committee, and its decisions were not reported to its parent body – University Council – which met later the same day.

In a newspaper interview, Vice Chancellor Glynis Breakwell has defended the enormous pay rises she has received in the last eight years.   Using words that will inflame most people working in higher education she said  “I’m worth it.   I’ve been in the job a long time and you do tend to get increases over time in most jobs.”  Most people working in HE have seen  the value of their pay fall by 15% in the last eight years.

UCU is challenging the Vice Chancellor’s refusal to disclose her expenses, in line with disclosures made by most other Vice Chancellors, and published recently in the national UCU report Transparency at the Top.

Another new member for Bath’s £100K + club

The appointment of a Vice President (Implementation) has raised a few eyebrows across the campus. After all, we have survived 50 years without a Vice President of any kind, so why do we need one now ? With THE reporting Vice Chancellor Breakwell as saying that the focus of the new job is on ‘change management’, some took the job title to mean an unwelcome turn towards expensive and ruthless US-style management practices. It may mean that, but the immediate reasons for using the VP title are more mundane. (more…)

Pressure growing for University to pay Living Wage

Living WageTwo well supported lobbies of University Council and University Court have put pressure on the University managers to pay the Living Wage to all staff.  Two years ago, the Vice Chancellor of Bath University – in a year when she received a record 25% pay increase – told UNISON she would not pay the Living Wage to hundreds of low paid workers at the University. Following pressure from all three unions, including UCU, the Vice Chancellor decided to pay a discretionary ‘pay supplement’ – in reality a tip – to 200 permanent and fixed term staff whose pay was less than the level of the Living Wage. This left another 1000 + hourly paid workers – bar and café staff, cleaners and many other kinds of job earning less than the Living Wage. This week’s protests were bigger, noisier and better supported than ever before.  They were so noisy that the VC had to sneak Chancellor Prince Edward into the meeting by the back door.   If we all keep this up it is only a matter of time before we win the Living Wage for everybody who works at the University of Bath.

LWage

Bath students question new VC pay rise

Bath SU newspaper Impact this week throws a spotlight on the recently disclosed 3% pay rise received by the Vice Chancellor.  This brings her salary tantalisingly close to the £400,000 mark.  UCU members are invited to join the VC Day party on the Parade on Monday lunchtime 2nd February.

High earners – the pay gap widens

UCU, UNISON and Unite today published an update of the 2012 High Earners Report .   The headline of the report is that the gap between the pay of high earners and everybody else has grown significantly since 2012.  

Petition to members of University Council calling for fairness, openness and accountability

We call on members of the University Council to re-assert its control over the decisions it has delegated to its Remuneration Committee. We further call on members of the Council to ensure that the decisions made by its Remuneration Committee are consistent with principles of fairness, transparency and accountability.

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72 signatures

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Publication of the updated report coincided with the annual meeting of the University Remuneration Committee.  This is the committee that agrees the pay of the Vice Chancellor and other high earners at the University.     UCU, UNISON and Unite have also written again to members of the University Remuneration Committee in advance of its annual meeting.

You can add your name to the letter to be presented to members of University Council, the governing body of the University at its meeting on 10th July, calling for greater fairness, openness and accountability in the operation of the University Remuneration Committee

 

 

 

How open are university open days ?

The three unions representing staff at the university have written to Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching):

Dear Bernie

We will be advising prospective students who visit next Thursday’s Open Day to ask a number of questions at all the universities they are visiting before deciding which to apply to.

We thought you might want to see the kinds of questions we will be suggesting prospective students ask here and elsewhere, so that you have a chance to brief staff on how to respond to these.

  • How much of my teaching will be delivered by staff employed on zero hours and temporary contracts ?
  • What is the staff-student ratio at the university?
  • Does the University pay the Living Wage to all staff it employs, including staff on casual contracts?
  • If I take a job working at the University while I am a student will I be paid the Living Wage ?
  • Are the guides who show me around the university paid a Living Wage?
  • What is the ratio of the Vice Chancellor’s annual salary to the pay of the lowest paid members of staff?
  • What will this university do if proposed cuts to Disabled Student Allowance are implemented in 2015 ?
  • Does this university want to see tuition fees rise above their current level of £9000 a year?
  • Does this university believe that student loans should be sold to a private company?
  • What would this university do if its students had the terms and conditions of their loans changed for the worse AFTER they had started the degree programme?

on behalf of UCU, UNISON, Unite

Update:  UCU national have used our letter to produce a national leaflet for use at Open Days across the country